The past week of news has been a roller-coaster of emotion, speculation, suspense and outrage. It was a flurry of reports ranging from the Good to the Bad and, of course, the Stupid. I’ve spent the last few days reading a myriad of article, op-eds and tweets about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon Bombings, in the wake of his capture. Aside from some tweets here and there over the weekend, I’ve done my best to not comment on the debacle; in situations like these, I tend to avoid the media frenzy to latch on to every report and rumor, especially since they are almost always wrong. It’s been a week now and I think I’m ready to share my thoughts:
First off, I’m very happy to hear that the administration has read the suspect his Miranda rights
after holding my breath and worrying we were going to be adding another human rights disaster to our ever-growing list
. Dzhokhar is an American citizen and he deserves every right to due process that any other suspected criminal deserves. I think it is one of the greatest ironies of our political climate that the people who won’t shut up for five minutes about their right to bear arms or hate gay people or drink soda are the same people who think that someone should be stripped of all his rights because he’s suspected of committing a crime. As both a Christian and an American, I believe in equality of treatment. This belief is central to Christ’s teachings, so much so that “Do unto others what you would have them do to you” (Matt 7:12) is probably one of the most well known sayings in the Bible.
It isn’t just a commandment of Christ, though: it’s common sense. We cannot sacrifice the rights of those with whom we disagree with unless we sacrifice our own as well. If I am ever unlucky enough to be accused of a crime, regardless of whether it is the crime of stealing a newspaper or of murder, I want to be afforded every civil right that I deserve. I want to be able to prove my innocence, I want to be able to have someone educated in law represent me and I want to be read my rights. How can I deny someone else any right that I want to have for myself?
So, that in mind, I present to you two reactions to the Boston Bombing that come from people who claim to be Christians:
I don’t and can’t hate you. I am glad you are in custody, but you are just a kid, and you lost. I will love and pray for you, because somehow your sin was turned for good, and my community and the people I love will only be stronger in the end.
This is, quite literally, exactly how a Christian should react to this crime. I urge you, if you have time, to read all of Rogers’ letter to Dzhokhar, even if you disagree with him. Despite having personally known several of the runners and onlookers in the race who were nearby when the bomb went off, including his brother, who was at the finish line when the first bomb exploded, Rogers reacts by giving love to the man who tried to murder his family and remorse for the unrealized future that Dzhokhar gave up. That is exactly what being a Christian looks like.
We didn’t have any problems saying that Hitler was bad. No problem at all saying the Nazis were monsters, no problem. We were fighting the Nazis, and our job was to defeat the Nazis, and everybody in America was mobilized to defeat the Nazis. … Now we’re fighting a war, but we refuse to identify our enemy even though it’s in plain sight. –Pat Robertson
Good ‘ole Pat gives us the polar opposite reaction. He doesn’t just demonize the man who committed the crimes; he demonizes millions of people and their beliefs because of their religion’s most extreme members. He doesn’t even see the irony of comparing a group of people Nazis while simultaneously calling for their eradication based on their religious beliefs. What political group tried that once before? Oh, right: Nazis